As many prospective SkillSelect applicants are likely aware, one of the major changes to the Skilled Migration program is the introduction of new occupations lists on 19 April 2017 and revision of the available occupations, effective 1 July, 2017. The system has however also retained pro-rata occupations, this means applicants need to think strategically about their SkillSelect application.
Prior to 1 July, the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) applied to both Employer Sponsored and General Skilled Migration programs. However, after 1 July, the lists for both programs have been separated. There will be a separate list of eligible occupations for the Skilled Independent (Subclass 189) visas and Family Sponsored Skilled Regional Provision (subclass 489) visas and a separate list for State nominated (subclass 190 and 489) visas.
The lists are expected to change every 12 months in July each year. This will mean increased uncertainty when planning what occupations will be available for the SkillSelect visas in future.
A number of occupations on the MLTSSL remain ‘pro-rata’ meaning that they have higher thresholds than the standard 60 points required for the SkillSelect program and only a limited number of places are released each invitation round.
Our assessment shows that the point score for at least 8 of the pro-rata occupations (Accountants, Auditors, Software Programmers, Electronic Engineers, etc.) increased between April and June this year. However, there is some good news. It appears the required scores for these occupations have started to drop – with the notable exception of Accountants.
Waiting times for a 189-invitation have reduced slowly from three months at the start of July’s invitation rounds.
Auditors, Company Secretaries and Corporate Treasurers
Minimum score required for a 189-invitation remained unchanged at 75 points for most rounds starting from April 2017.
Waiting times for a 189-invitation varied from 2 months to a little over 3 months for most applicants with 75 points from the start July. The waiting times have increased from 20 days in April when the minimum score first started to rise. This suggests that the score may remain at 75 for the next few months.
Minimum score required for a 189-invitation remained at 70 points for all rounds starting from 26 April 2017 to 23 August 2017. In the most recent round recorded on 20 September, the minimum score required dropped to 65.
Waiting times for a 189-invitation vary from one day to four weeks for most rounds since April when the minimum score rose to 70. This is a significant drop compared to the waiting times recorded for most rounds from January to early April 2017. In the latest round, applicants with 65 points waited a little over 2 months for an invitation. This expects an increase in waiting times for lower minimum score.
Industrial, Mechanical and Production Engineers
The most recent round conducted on 20 September saw the minimum score required for occupations in this group to be 65. The minimum score had peaked at 75 between April and June, then slowly dropped to 70 at the start of July for three subsequent rounds before dropping further.
Overall, the waiting times for a 189-invitation started at 2 months and 15 days at the beginning of 2017 and steadily grew to 4 months and 15 days. When it was at its peak at 75 points, applicants were invited within 7 days. The waiting times remained similar even when the score dropped to 70. However, the two most recent rounds saw a record of 7 month waiting times for applicants with 65 points, having waited since December 2016.
Other Engineering Professionals
Based on the data of the most recent invitation rounds from July to September 2017, the minimum score required to receive a 189-invitation for this occupation increased to 70, with the waiting times reducing from a little over 3 months to just 11 days.
ICT Business and System Analysts
For invitation rounds from August 2017 to September 2017, the minimum score required for a 189-invitation stayed at 70, after dropping from 75 in two rounds in July.
The waiting times vary from 3 to 4 months starting from August. The waiting times were shorter when the minimum score rose to 75 in July. Interestingly, the second round of July saw applicants with 75 points being invited within 1 day.
Software and Applications Programmers
The minimum score required for a 189-invitation dropped to 65 in the two most recent rounds, and applicants waited approximately 6 to 7 months to receive invitations. This suggests that the minimum score and waiting times have slowly reverted back to those recorded for this group before the changes in April.
In the invitation round starting in April, the points score increased significantly to 75 and remained so until the end of June before dropping a further 5 points in July, when the new financial year began, while the waiting time reduced to two months at 70 and 8 days at 75.
Computer Network Professionals
The minimum score required for a 189-invitation and waiting times for this occupation remained relatively steady at 65 throughout the first half of 2017 before surging to 70 in July. In terms of waiting times, applicants waited as long as three months in July to a few days in August. When the minimum required score dropped to 65 in the most two recent rounds, the waiting times have been recorded at 6 months with applicants having waited from January.
Overall, the minimum required score for most pro-rata occupations have dropped, except for Accountant. However, it appears that only applicants with 65 points received invitations for non-pro rata occupations. Although the current points threshold remains at 60, there is little prospect applicants for non-pro-rata occupations will receive an invitation at 60 points in the next round.
The SkillSelect program is becoming increasingly competitive. It is essential for students, not only those who currently study courses in the pro-rata occupations but also students from non-pro-rata occupations, to plan effectively so they can maximise their scores right after the completion of their studies. Future applicants should consider taking an English test while studying to identify their current English ability and take pro-active measures to improve their score to achieve more points by obtaining a Proficient or Superior level.
Also, we recommend applicants for pro-rata occupations start considering other pathways after completion of their course, such as:
- Completing a Professional Year Program – 5 points
- Getting credentialed community language qualifications – 5 points
- Onshore work experience – 5 points
- Furthering studies in another States with possible prospect for a State Nomination for graduates.
Proposed changes to the cost of employer sponsored permanent residency visas and priority processing offered by some State Governments mean that many current 457 visa holders will look at applying for SkillSelect visas, increasing competition for limited places. We consider this especially likely for Software and Applications Programmers and may result in an increase in the minimum point score due to a surge of applicants with employment experience.
If you are currently studying or have recently completed study for any of these 8 occupation groups and would like advice regarding your prospects of permanent residency, please contact us today or book a consultation with one of our immigration advisors.